UNC queries CJ link to PM during election petition case

A Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) mem­ber has res­ur­rect­ed the three-year-old elec­tion pe­ti­tion and is now seek­ing to sue Chief Jus­tice Ivor Archie for his role in the de­ter­mi­na­tion which cost him the seat back in 2015.

In a pre-ac­tion pro­to­col let­ter yes­ter­day, UNC sen­a­tor and at­tor­ney Ger­ald Ramdeen rep­re­sent­ed Dr She­vanand Gopeesingh, who was the UNC can­di­date for San Fer­nan­do West and went up against At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi.

The crux of the new law­suit against Archie was whether he and the then new­ly-in­stalled Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley had a re­la­tion­ship close enough that Archie ap­proached Row­ley for hous­es dur­ing the time the pe­ti­tion was be­ing heard.

In that let­ter, Ramdeen ques­tioned the re­quest Archie made of the PM while al­so choos­ing to sit on the ap­pel­late court judges pan­el to hear the UNC’s pe­ti­tions, which were dis­missed.

Back in 2015, the Elec­tion and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (EBC) took an un­prece­dent­ed de­ci­sion to ex­tend vot­ing times by one hour be­cause of in­clement weath­er. But the UNC ar­gued the EBC did not do enough to in­form the pub­lic of the ex­tend­ed vot­ing times, which hin­dered their vot­ing base in six con­stituen­cies.

Ramdeen cit­ed in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports in the me­dia and an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Law As­so­ci­a­tion which al­leged­ly linked Archie to the hand over of State hous­es to peo­ple he rec­om­mend­ed to the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC).

“It is fur­ther al­leged that you asked for as­sis­tance in hav­ing their ap­pli­ca­tions pro­gressed and/or fast-tracked and that some of these per­sons on the list are per­son­al friends of your good self,” Ramdeen said in the let­ter.

“The fact that you chose to sit on all the ap­peals in these elec­tion pe­ti­tions at a time when you were said to have been ac­tive­ly lob­by­ing or seek­ing favourable treat­ment from State bod­ies un­der con­trol of the Gov­ern­ment (ei­ther be­cause you were mak­ing re­quests to the Prime Min­is­ter or HDC; or be­cause you were await­ing a favourable re­sponse in re­spect of per­sons al­ready rec­om­mend­ed for hous­ing) gives rise to se­ri­ous grounds for ac­tu­al and/or ap­par­ent bias,” Ramdeen said.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, Gopeesingh asked for de­tails of Archie’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Row­ley in the hous­ing re­quest and said he in­tends to file a claim in the court ask­ing that the elec­tion pe­ti­tion rul­ings be set aside.

Back in Oc­to­ber 2016, the UNC sought to have the courts de­clare the re­sults in five con­stituen­cies null and void as a re­sult of the EBC de­ci­sion to ex­tend vot­ing times. The mat­ter was dis­missed but UNC leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar said then that she planned to ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

The mat­ter even­tu­al­ly reached the Ap­peal Court where Archie presided and was dis­missed.

Reporter: Renuka Sing

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